The Wall Street Journal Pooh-Poohs Bank Transfer Day

This Wall Street Journal story on Bank Transfer Day, the push to get people to move their money out of fee-gouging, too-big-to-fail banks and into credit unions and small local banks, is an exercise in point-missing.

It says that it’s not so easy to move your money to a credit union, and you can’t really do it in one day, and many credit unions aren’t open on Saturday, and besides that, there are other downsides for credit unions, like having to raise capital. The lede is about a credit-union exec who thinks the title of the movement is misleading “because the name suggests that moving money between financial institutions is easy.”

Come on.

I seriously doubt that most credit unions aren’t doing all they can to welcome as many of these new customers as they can snag. It’s not hard to find reports showing just that. Here’s The (Clark County, Washington) Columbian:

Credit unions didn’t declare Saturday as Bank Transfer Day, but they’re sure seizing on the powerful forces that are pushing customers their way.

The event, urging people to transfer money out of banks, was hatched by a Los Angeles gallery owner and spread through a Facebook page that has almost 36,000 followers. Columbia Credit Union is running a steady stream of ads in The Columbian, including a full-page ad in this past Sunday’s newspaper with the blaring message: “Fed up? Sign Up.” Other local credit unions are staffing up for a possible influx of new customers during Saturday banking hours. And the Northwest Credit Union Association, a trade group for Oregon and Washington, is offering consultation to its members, including a “sample news release, interview talking points, and consumer information.”

The NWCUA points to several credit unions normally closed on Saturdays that are opening on the weekends for this event.

Here’s NerdWallet with a roundup of credit-union promotions tied into Bank Transfer Day.

Oh, and there’s this report:

The (Credit Union National Association) hasn’t endorsed Bank Transfer Day, though most of its members are pleased with the attention, says Patrick Keefe, a spokesman for the group. Those that are less enthusiastic about the movement are “probably the exception, not the rule,” he added.

That’s buried way down in the Journal’s own story.

We already have evidence that bank customers aren’t waiting for Saturday to flood into credit unions. Credit unions added more new customers in the last month than they did in all of 2010—a figure that shows how silly the Journal is to focus on the difficulties of switching rather than the huge spike of people fleeing the banks.

It might be different if this were the latest in a series of stories on Bank Transfer Day, and the paper needed a new angle. But this is the only story the Journal has run that’s mentioned the campaign.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,